Keeping up with Jeremy Jones: Positional preferences and risky terrain choices
We use results from an online survey distributed in North America (N = 796), to analyze if backcountry riders’ level of contentment is affected by others’ backcountry activities, i.e., if they are positional, and if positionality for backcountry experiences is associated with increased risk-taking behavior. Our findings suggest that many are positional, and that positional preferences for challenging terrain is correlated with relatively high risk exposure. The positionality effect is present regardless of level of avalanche training, and suggests that current avalanche education does not change ones positionality related to risk taking behavior. Our results provide support for the hypothesis that social comparisons, and perhaps the fear of losing out, affects risk-taking behavior, and that current avalanche education does not change this. It further suggests that avalanche courses should be adapted to deal with the "keeping up with the Joneses" effect by incorporating some comprehension of personality type in the presentation of course material.